The purpose of this study is determining the social functionality of gladiatorial combat during the Later Republic and early Imperial periods. I contend that gladiatorial combat becomes a tool of the aristocratic elite for political gains. In my first chapter I will examine the beginnings of the games in their Etruscan origins as well as the Roman adaptations. I will look at a series of Etruscan art images to understand the precursors of the Roman games. In my second chapter I will examine the political context of the games from 50 BCE to the reign of Domitian. My third chapter will be a creative piece used to illuminate the gladiator's view of the games, and my fourth chapter is a commentary on this piece where I will elaborate upon the major cultural points developed therein. Throughout my study I will examine a series of primary sources from Cicero and Livy to Juvenal and Martial; through their works I hope to show the games in their cultural context. I conclude that the games are an integral part of Roman life, and retain their importance throughout the late Republic and early Imperial periods.


Florence, Monica


Classical Studies


Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2010 Joseph M. Stryffeler